Pune was among the first cities to be part of the Government of India’s ambitious Smart City Mission (SCM) launched on June 25, 2015. Today, the city has completed 45 projects and only three remain before Pune is considered a Smart City. However, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the city on Tuesday to attend various functions, the local governing body was busy repairing potholes across the city. For the citizens of Pune, their city is nowhere near becoming the Smart City.

But this is not the case in Pune alone. Other cities that are part of the SCM continue to struggle to put basic infrastructure in place. Smart Cities Mission is aimed at providing core infrastructure, a clean and sustainable environment and a decent quality of life to their citizens through the application of ‘smart solutions’.

Over four rounds of competition from January 2016 to June 2018, 100 Smart Cities were selected. As per the data presented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to the Lok Sabha, as on 7 July 2023, work orders have been issued by 100 Smart Cities in 7,978 projects, of which 5,909 projects (74%) have been completed. The government has released ₹73,454 crore for 100 Smart Cities of which ₹66,023 crore (90%) has been utilised. The total cost of the projects under SCM comes to ₹1,79,228.99 crore.

Smart Funding

As per SCM Guidelines, the government of India will provide financial support to the extent of ₹48,000 crore over five years i.e., on an average ₹100 crore per city per year. An equal amount on a matching basis will be contributed by the State government/Urban Local Body (ULB). Apart from these sources, around ₹42,028 crore (21%) has been proposed from convergence with other Missions, ₹41,022 crore (21%) from Public-Private Partnership (PPP), around ₹9,843 crore (4.8%) from loans, ₹2,644 crore (1.3%) from own resources and remaining from other sources.

According to the Centre for Policy Research of the cities with the highest proportion of project costs completed, less than 30 per cent of completed costs came from the government of India and States indicating a greater reliance on other sources like convergence and Public-Private Partnerships.

Urban challenges

According to urban planners, the major challenges of urbanisation for India in the years ahead are the inability of the cities to provide basic needs such as safe drinking water, clean air, good quality public transport and roads and pavements for their residents and material to move from one place to another, while also providing both social infrastructure (schools, hospitals, public parks) and economic infrastructure (bridges, flyovers, markets).

The period of implementation of SCM has been extended up to June 2024 and all Smart Cities are expected to complete their projects within the stipulated time, the Ministry recently told Lok Sabha.